Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Moochee

Posted by on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Dear Bianca,

I have a good friend who never carries cash when we go out. She carries a debit card, but we inevitably always end up somewhere that doesn’t take cards, and she always asks to borrow cash -- $5 here, $20 there. It adds up.

She always promises to pay me back, but I can count on one hand the number of times that’s actually happened. We’ve been friends for years, and I’ve given her several hundred dollars during that time. I do make a point to ask for my money back whenever I can, but her typical excuse is that she’ll have to go to an ATM later.

She doesn’t make much money, and I’m sure that contributes to this not-paying-me-back thing. And it’s for that reason that I feel guilty even asking her for my money back.

I was always taught to be modest about money. My family has been very generous in helping me out when I needed money and never required payment back from me. I believe this may be what makes me so uncomfortable asking my friend to pay me back. But it’s starting to get old. Is there a polite way to ask her to pay up? Or should I just stop hanging out with her?

— Moneybags

Dear Moneybags,

Most of us have friends who conveniently never carry cash and always need to borrow money. Fortunately, mine’s pretty good about paying me back within 24 hours. He is a bit of a drunk though, so he sometimes needs to be reminded when he owes me for drinks from the night before.

You shouldn’t necessarily stop hanging out with your friend, but you need to put your foot down. When the two of you plan a night out, first plan a trip to the ATM. Ask your friend to get out as much money as she plans to spend and warn her that you’re not loaning her anything when she runs out.

This may hurt her feelings, but you should remind her that you’ve loaned her several hundred dollars over the years, and how you really could have used that money for bills. If you truly do need that money back, see if she'll agree to a payment plan to give you something each payday. If the owed money isn’t terribly important to you, consider writing it off and starting fresh. She may be more understanding about your “no more loans” policy if she knows she’s off the hook for the money she owes.

Friends are always more important than money, but you have to draw the line. Right now, you’re letting your friend walk all over you. Set boundaries and start over. Hopefully, this may even help her learn a thing or two about financial responsibility.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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